Treat to Toy Transfer with Layla

Here are Layla and Ron working on Transferring from Treats to Toys with Set Up Moves and some Flatwork. Layla is a serious car chaser and we had quite a bit of traffic. She’s was a sprung monkey before we got out to the pasture. Had we not needed to film this, we would have went back inside and tried again later.

This was Layla’s 3rd session of Set Up Moves. Total time 9-12 minutes. We didn’t work position, although Apryl has put Heel on her, and we had not worked any Flatwork Foundation.


The plan with this video was to work some Set Up Moves and maybe some Flatwork and to demonstrate the mechanics of moving from Treats to Toys. Put some reinforcement on Eye Contact in the presence of a disc and Rewarding with Action was to be a major too. Not much else mattered.

You’ll notice how loose the session was in terms of control over Layla. She was pretty aroused and not really in a great frame of mind for work. She was doing a million things at once and could barely control herself. It would have been easy for me to try to corral Layla up and really try to control her actions.

Instead, I pretty much let her do her thing and captured behaviors that I liked and rewarded those marked behaviors with the action of working. I avoided problems and focused in on what was important during this session – shift from food to toys with our Set Up Moves.


The main mechanics for this skill is activating the second target and making the first target disappear. That popping lure with the second hand combined with the static, boring nature of the first hand is what attracts the dog’s attention. The sharp movement of the second target away from the dog triggers prey drive.

I sometimes tap the discs together to further reinforce the transfer of target, essentially the base level concept we were shooting for with Set Up Moves for cookies, but I don’t think it’s the integral part. It does help with some dogs though, that sound of the discs hitting and the sharp movement they display when they crack together is a real turn on for some dogs.

Rewarding with Action

Rewarding with Action was integral to the success of this session. The dog was highly aroused. The dog was highly distracted. The dog has outrageous prey drive. And the dog has very little experience.

Reinforcing Layla with the opportunity to perform the target behavior made for an extremely efficient session. Layla didn’t have time to get off track and distracted by the noise of the traffic. Her reorientation to the handler was captured and the reward was the ‘Go Around’, avoiding entirely the problems of getting in the proper position, the wait, and trouble setting the hook on the lure. Capturing the reorientation and reinforcing with the opportunity to perform a ‘Go Aroud’ behavior added value to both the reorientation to the handler and to the Set Up Move.

The Drop of the disc by Layla was rewarded with the action of a Set Up Move or some Flatwork as was Eye Contact. We had several behaviors feeding into the Set Up Moves and Flatwork, which means we could get a relatively decent rate of reinforcement despite Lalya’s anxiety, lack of experience and high state of arousal.

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  1. Oh MY GOSH Ron – I can’t tell you how helpful it is to watch you work with different dogs! Particularly novice dogs! Watching trainers working through things with dogs that have been there, seen it and done it….sort of misses the mark on so many different levels for me. Well done for putting yourself out there and risking it with dogs that are learning too. I have one young dog, Chess who catches everything and another young dog Turk who doesn’t – it helped me so much to see Layla at this early stage reminding me of Turk. Thanks Ron for keeping it real

  2. @Judy –
    We only work Green dogs here for our instruction. In the original videos, Hops was totally green, no skills.
    And when I said that Layla had 9-12 minutes of work, that was 9-12 minutes of work before this session.
    The 5:45 seconds in her first cookie session, another 2 minute cookie session and a real quick transferring from Treats to Toys session the day before we shot this. The first Treats to Toys session was real nice – no anxiety due to the presence of traffic – it went so well I broke it off right away fearing that I’d not have a green dog to video for the class session.
    As far as working with crazy dogs, just try keep it loosely focused on the task at hand.

    Nothing matters except for these set up moves, and the handler doesn’t need to make them happen, the handler needs to prove that they are cool and fun and worth doing.


  3. Ok, here is my video for this week using a KONG reward instead of food. I started using a bite cue/presentation combo for biting after the yes marker. I’ve tried a few time with discs but I get too much killing of the frisbee right now as you can see her urge to tug and kill shake the KONG too.

    1. Great Job, Sara…

      I wish I were there to work with you.

      I’m thinking about your foundation and such with the Protection Sports and am trying to figure out where and how they differ and how I can line it up with disc.

      First off, we’re going to need to use throwing nearly exclusively for reinforcement, I think. Your Protection Foundation makes the dog real high in close like that. The dog is so contained – it’s Bottled Drive – Compressed Drive?…

      So I’m thinking if we can get reinforcement going on away from us with throwing we are going to shift from bite/kill to chase/bite and we are going to be able to alleviate that pressure that makes her just want to pop. This is super important for you. So get outside and work this drill on a larger scale:

      Try This:

      Get 2 Kongs
      Go outsideand throw them around a little bit.
      Ask for the drop, mark it and reinforce with a toss.
      Walk over and pick up dropped Kong…
      Call the Drop. Yes! Toss the other one.

      This should free you up a bit and will start to create value out away from you as a handler. You can work the drop, by focusing in on that with your marker and your attention. Once you’ve got the drop working and she’s off you a bit, reinforce the drop with a Set Up Move and slip that into the game above.


  4. Very helpful! Thanks so much. I think I was worried too much about the actual transfer of the object and less about the movement. This will actually be fantastic for Ember as she really loves the movement. I did try to just be really conscious of my hand movements and it was better with the treats. I will work more on this today with a toy and let you know how it goes.

  5. Yea, kind of my bad, there, Lindsay. When I was wrote the lesson it I don’t think I realized how different the game was, conceptually and how difficult it would be on that smaller scale for people.
    Oh well… glad we got it squared away for you.

    Go get em, Ember!

  6. Hi Ron,

    Okay so we are trying toys becuase the discs are making Rayne to high! The toys are making both high *laugh* I actually thought they wouldn’t be that interested my bad there.

    I still have not named anything yet so tried with luring with the toy and found it is a little to much as both the girl’s eyes bug out with mad desire to get it and everything else follows that desire. So I have to pocket the toy and just use hand luring then when they finish a few moves I toss the toy? Hope that is okay? It seems to be slowly working except that I have taught them weave with hand signal and stepping out with my leg so they are antisipating my move and confusing it with the cross overt. I think we may be able to get past it *I hope* if I keep stepping back and starting the move over and make them focus on my hand movement.

    I uploaded two videos last week for week 1 but they are long. If you just check out the first minute on each I think you will get a good idea what I am doing. I think I am saying my yes a little late so not sure if it’s going to screw us up. I will try and keep the vids to 2 minutes next time. I just do not know how to edit out and cut stuff. My Sony will not work on my Mac they are not compatible file wise and my older computer takes all afternoon to upload so I don’t have the speed and patience for editing.

    I will shoot a quick 2-3 min one tonight because I don’t feel we are getting the toy transfer part right.


  7. Hi Ron
    It’s taken me four goes at trying to get this video up to blip.
    Quality is not so good. I know it’s late and into the next week but if you could comment it would be helpful. I have pick up one thing and that is I have not a consequents. I hope others can learn from this as well.

  8. So obviously Layla and Cricket have met! How old is she in this video? Many parts of this reminded me of Cricket, not so much the interest on traffic, but the lose/sloppy returns and the prancing around with the disc in her mouth. After the hangout on Monday night, I had some more clarity about the presentation of my disc (when and how) and this seems to have helped a bit, but I still get some latency between when I say “Out” and when the disc is actually dropped. My approach had just been to wait it out (roughly any where between 5-20 seconds) and just reward with the opportunity to either bite the other disc or chase down a roller or something.) One question, what is your cue for “permission to bite.” I also like the collar hold when I am getting tugging and not my give, and there is a degree of self-reinforcement going on… I think the collar hold would decrease that significantly.

    1. Layla was about 10-12 months old in this video. She is now happily homed and doing great! yay!

      As far as the Drop goes…

      Freeshape and Capture Then Predict

      If you are experiencing that much latency (5-20seconds) you’ll probably want to freeshape and capture the Drop. So don’t cue it, just observe your dog and mark the unsolicited drop. This will give you intelligence on where and when Cricket is likely to drop. Once you have this intelligence use it by predicting the drop and cuing when you think it is likely to have a fast response. Mark and reinforce.

      Isolate the Drop with High Rate of Reinforcement

      You can also do some Bitework for a drop. 2 targets, like Bitework 101 with Indy. The key with the bitework is to get a whole bunch of cued Drops that are reinforced with instant Bites – “Bite/yes!” let the dog win…”Drop/yes!” reinforce with a cued bite. It is easy to get a hundred rewards per minute – that’s a lot of dropping.

      Oppositional Feeding

      You can also use Oppositional Feeding. Because of the high value of a full Retrieve with many dogs and the pattern that generates, some value needs to be placed “out there” 15-20 yards away from you. When you get a Drop, either on cue or freeshaped, you can mark it and reinforce by throwing behind the dog, from the direction he came from. This will force the dog to turn around and move away from you to get reinforced for the Drop. The reinforcement will happen at 15 yards.

      Occasionally, or initially, you can throw before the dog Drops. You can cue the Drop, give it a moment, and if there is no Drop, you can just chuck a disc out there. Odds are the dog will run out after the newly thrown disc with a disc still in his mouth. This is not really OK, so it needs to be done sparingly, but the funniest thing happens. The dog runs out with the disc in their mouth, stands over the disc you just threw (15-20 yards away) then Drops to pick up the other one. Mark this Drop and throw it out there to the dog’s left or right, again about 15 yards. This is you manufacturing the dropping of a disc at 15 yards. You can’t do this too often, be careful with it, but a few reps at the right time can be magic.

      I have been using Oppositional Feeding with great results. It forces the dog to Drop earlier and earlier and reduces the need to haul ass back to the handler.

      Weak Retrieve

      This is largely because there is not enough value on the handler. The fix for this will negatively impact a Drop on the run at a distance. I would work it in a separate session of Cued Drop = Bite on disc in handler’s hand. Or, Flipping the Field.

      Hope this helps…

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